IBS Often Runs in Families

A happy family portrait with a spastic colon secret

Guess which one of these people has IBS.
© Can Stock Photo

IBS has had many names, spastic colon, mucous colitis and others listed below. Since it can often run in families knowing some of the other names might help you find out if someone else in your family ever had it.

Family History Can Help You

My grandfather and I were known to have the same nervous stomach. As I got older and my IBS got worse, I’ve used some of the things he told me worked for him. He never drank coffee or milk for instance. Unfortunately many people don’t like talking about “potty habits” or whatever, so that family history may have been lost. Frankly, some of the older folks in my family seemed to go on about it all day!

Find out if you have IBS symptoms.


Why the Names Changed

Blocks of letters spelling Stories, Memories, Histories

Medical staff asks about a family history of heart, asthma, diabetes, etc. I think they should be asking you about “spastic colon” AKA IBS.
© Can Stock Photo

When you are reading about IBS especially in older documents you may run into many of the names below. These

names fell out of fashion because they don’t always describe irritable bowel syndrome very well. For instance, the colon and colitis refer to the large intestine, but the small intestine also plays a role in IBS.

Some Other Names for IBS:

  • Functional Bowel Disease
  • Functional colitis
  • Intestinal neurosis
  • Irritable Colitis
  • Irritable colon
  • Irritable Gut Syndrome
  • Laxative colitis
  • Mucous Colitis
  • Nervous indigestion
  • Nervous Stomach
  • Spastic Bowel
  • Spastic Bowel
  • Spastic Colitis
  • Spastic Colon

What the Names Mean

Grandmother with a spastic colon and belly pain

Mom, may have had a “spastic colon”, but she never liked to complain. Today it might be called IBS.
© Bigstockphoto.com

Spastic is a word for the spasms or clenching of your bowels, it can also be another word for belly cramps. That has always been one of the most painful parts of IBS for me. It doesn’t really describe the diarrhea or constipation that are part of the full IBS syndrome. Mucous Colitis basically means a sick, painful colon with mucous. The mucous is your bowels defense against whatever is irritating it. Nervous stomach and intestinal neurosis both refer to how anxiety and stress can trigger IBS problems. Reducing stress and anxiety can really help with IBS symptoms.

Where to Go From Here

If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS the What Causes IBS page can help you understand what you’re dealing with and what you can do about it. Return to What is IBS? from the Spastic Colon page.